First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge

Coordinates: 17°52′42″N 102°42′56″E / 17.87833°N 102.71556°E / 17.87833; 102.71556
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First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge

สะพานมิตรภาพ ไทย-ลาว แห่งที่ ๑
ຂົວມິດຕະພາບ ລາວ-ໄທ ແຫ່ງທຳອິດ
Coordinates17°52′42″N 102°42′56″E / 17.8783°N 102.7156°E / 17.8783; 102.7156
CarriesMotor vehicles, Trains
CrossesMekong River
LocaleNong Khai, Nong Khai Province
Vientiane, Vientiane Prefecture
Official nameFirst Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Total length1.17 km (3,800 ft)
Width3.5 and 1.5 m (11 ft 6 in and 4 ft 11 in)
Constructed byJohn Holland
Opened4 April 1994

The First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge (Thai: สะพานมิตรภาพ ไทย-ลาว แห่งที่ 1, pronounced [sā.pʰāːn mít.trā.pʰâːp tʰāj lāːw hɛ̀ŋ tʰîː nɯ̀ŋ]; Lao: ຂົວມິດຕະພາບ ລາວ-ໄທ ແຫ່ງທຳອິດ, pronounced [kʰǔa̯ mīt.tā.pʰâːp láːw tʰáj hɛ̄ŋ tʰám ǐt]) is a bridge over the Mekong, connecting Nong Khai Province and the city of Nong Khai in Thailand with Vientiane Prefecture in Laos; the city of Vientiane is approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the bridge. With a length of 1,170 meters (0.73 mi), the bridge has two 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in)-wide road lanes, two 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in)-wide footpaths and a single 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) gauge railway line in the middle, straddling the narrow central reservation.


A plaque in Laos, in Lao and English, commemorating the First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.

Opened on 8 April 1994, it was the first bridge across the lower Mekong, and the second on the full course of the Mekong.[citation needed]

The cost was about A$42 million, funded by the Government of Australia as development aid for Laos.[1][2]

The bridge was designed and built by Australian companies as a demonstration of their ability to complete major infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia. The concept design of a balanced cantilever bridge was proposed by Bruce Ramsay of VSL with the final design carried out by Maunsell consulting engineers.[citation needed] It was built by John Holland.[3]

The official name of the bridge was changed by the addition of "First" after the Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge further south at Savannakhet opened in January 2007.

Road traffic[edit]

Sign for the road rules change at the Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge.

Traffic on the bridge drives on the left, as in Thailand, while traffic in Laos drives on the right. The changeover at the Lao end, just before the border post, is controlled by traffic lights.

A shuttle bus service operates across the bridge, between the Lao and Thai border posts.

Bicycles and tricycles can travel on either the road or the footpath, while pedestrians can walk directly on the footpath.

The bridge is part of AH12 of the Asian Highway Network.


A train on the bridge.

A meter gauge rail track from Nong Khai station runs along the central reservation of the bridge. Road traffic is stopped when a train is crossing.

On 20 March 2004, an agreement between the Thai and Lao governments was signed to extend the railway to Thanaleng Railway Station in Laos, about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the bridge. This was the first railway link to Laos (but not the first railway, as a short portage line once existed). The Thai government agreed to finance the line through a combination of grant and loan.[4] Construction formally began on 19 January 2007.[5] Test trains began running on 4 July 2008.[4] Formal inauguration occurred on 5 March 2009.[6]

On 22 February 2006, approval of funding for the rail line from Thanaleng Railway Station to Vientiane, was announced by the French Development Agency.[7]

A US$50 million loan was also reportedly received from the Thai government for the extension. Construction was originally slated to begin in December 2010, and Lao railway officials had confirmed as late as September 2010 that plans would go ahead. The extension, which would have taken an estimated three years to complete, would have stretched 9 km (5.6 mi) from Thanaleng to a new main Khamsavath Station[8] The station will be completed by June 2022 and open 2023.

Since February 2010 the Eastern and Oriental Express crosses the Mekong via the bridge into Laos.[9] There is currently no connection to the China-Laos Railway but the standard gauge line circles the north east of Vientiane to a depot just 2 km from the Friendship Bridge. A new bridge is proposed from this point to join the proposed Thai High speed line at Nong Khai station just south of the Mekong.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The First Thai - Laos Friendship Bridge". Australian Embassy Thailand. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Up for the Challenge: The John Holland Story 1986 - 2016. John Holland. 2018. pp. 59/60.
  4. ^ a b "Testing takes train into Laos". Railway Gazette International. 7 July 2008.
  5. ^ "Laos link launched". Railway Gazette International. 1 March 2007.
  6. ^ "Thai-Lao train service launched". Bangkok Post. 3 May 2009.[dead link]
  7. ^ Saeung, Sopaporn (23 February 2006). "France okays Thai-Laos railway link" Archived 2012-10-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Nation.
  8. ^ Laos and Thailand set to begin building railway extension into Vientiane
  9. ^ "Eastern & Oriental Express Makes its First Journey Over Friendship Bridge". Luxury Travel Magazine. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Laos and Thailand to Build New Friendship Bridge for Both Road and Rail". 9 February 2022.
  11. ^ Plan Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.

External links[edit]

17°52′42″N 102°42′56″E / 17.87833°N 102.71556°E / 17.87833; 102.71556